Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category

Kim Jong Il’s Yacht, UNESCO, Golf, and the Taean Glass Factory

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Now available on Google Earth! 
(click above to download to your own Google Earth)

North Korea Uncovered v.3

Google Earth added a high-resolution overlay of the area between Pyongyang and Nampo.  In it, most of the Koguryo tombs listed with UNESCO are now distinguishable.  In addition, viewers can see the latest Kim Jong Il palace (including a yacht), the DPRK’s premier golf course, and the Chinese-built Taean Glass factory.  I have also made some progress in mapping out the DPRK electricity grid.

This is the most authoritative map of North Korea that exists publicly today.  Agriculture, aviation, cultural institutions, manufacturing, railroad, energy, politics, sports, military, religion, leisure, national parks…they are all here, and will captivate anyone interested in North Korea for hours.

Naturally, I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds on the more “controversial” locations. In time, I hope to expand this further by adding canal and road networks.

I hope this post will launch a new interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to hearing about improvements that can be made.

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North Korea Uncovered (Google Earth)

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

DOWNLOAD IT HERE (to your own Google Earth)

Using numerous maps, articles, and interviews I have mapped out North Korea by “industry” (or topic) on Google Earth.  This is the most authoritative map of North Korea that exists publicly today.

Agriculture, aviation, cultural, manufacturing, railroad, energy, politics, sports, military, religion, leisure, national parks…they are all here, and will captivate anyone interested in North Korea for hours.

Naturally, I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds on the more “controversial” locations.  In time, I hope to expand this further by adding canal and road networks. 

I hope this post will launch a new interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to hearing about improvements that can be made.

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Golf Courses Due in Kaesong

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Korea Times
Kim Yon-se
2/26/2007

Hyundai Asan is considering building three golf courses in Kaesong, North Korea, by 2012 as its first round of development projects at the Kaesong Industrial Complex have almost been completed.

According to sources, the inter-Korean tourism operator of Hyundai Group is in talks with the North to build an 18-hole golf course in the North Korean city by 2010 and two more by 2012.

A Hyundai Group official said the proposed golf course would be the second of its kind. One golf course has already been developed near Mount Kumgang and is scheduled to open to South Korean tourists later this year.

In a statement, however, Hyundai Asan predicted that it will take some time before the plan is realized as the North’s stance has yet to decided.

The company said talks between the two countries for the second development project would be possible after the first project is completed.

North Korea has stirred controversy by negotiating with a small South Korean company, Unico, to build a golf course despite its initial contract with Hyundai Asan to develop golf courses around the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Since last July, the North has banned South Korean visitors to the industrial complex from visiting the city’s downtown area including historic sites.

Hundreds of South Koreans, mostly businesspeople and government officials, had been allowed to make an excursion to the city of Kaesong during their visit to the industrial complex.

Hyundai had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Emerson Pacific Group, which has been constructing golf courses at the scenic resort area at Mount Kumgang, for the project in Kaesong.

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Golf in the DPRK

Friday, December 8th, 2006

Daily NK
12/8/2006
Yang Jung A

While golf equipment was amongst the list of banned luxury goods the U.S. government announced recently, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on the 6th that golf is a symbol of luxurious pleasure that only the elite in North Korea can experience.

Citing from a Pyongyang report by an Agence France-Presse correspondent, RFA revealed “The main golf course in North Korea is “Pyongyang Golf Course” with about 100 members, which in reality are all officials of Chosun Workers’ Party” and “Annual membership paid by the member amounts to $10,000.”

The correspondent said “This is a figure the average North Korean citizen could not even dream as an expense” and “The golf course in North Korea is a symbol of luxurious pleasure only experienced by authority officials or the elite.”

In the vicinity of Lake Taesung in Yongkang-gun, Nampo 38km from Pyongyang is “Pyongyang Golf Course,” equipped with a complete 18 hole course and ample enough to host an international golf tournament. The course was established in ’87 in celebration of Kim Il Song’s 75th birthday, sponsored by the Jochongnyeon, the pro-North Korean residents’ league in Japan.

Although it is said that a golf course exists within the grounds of Kim Il Sung’s Mountain Myohang villa and Ryongsung resort, the only golf course open to the public is ‘Pyongyang Golf Course.’ Mountain Myohang golf course is located in a valley 1.5km from Hyangsan Hotel, whereas Ryongsung golf course is situated 20 min by car from Pyongyang.

There are also mini courses, such as Yangkakdo golf course and Pyongyang golf practice range, Nampo Wawoodo golf course (9 holes). With investments by South Korean business, more golf courses are being constructed in areas such as Mt. Geumgang.

However, these golf courses are mainly accommodated to foreigners and excluding the elitist class, common people in possession of foreign currency such as Korean born Japanese or foreigners with blood-relatives are also using the courses.

Golf is one of Kim Jong Il’s favorite pastimes. In a book written by Fujimoto Kenji, once Kim Jong Il’s personal cook, Fujimoto wrote of his times at a golf course with Kim Jong Il at his villa.

At the golf course Fujimoto visited with Kim Jong Il, Kim asked Fujimoto ‘Compared to all the other places in the world, what do you think about the golf courses in North Korea?’ That day, when Kim Jong Il visited the golf course was October 6th and categorized a public holiday as a ‘The day Kim Jong Il visited.’

One time, North Korean mass media announced that at Kim Jong Il’s first time round of golf in `94, he scored an “eagle” followed by five “hold in ones,” recording a total score of 34. This only incited laughter from the international community.

If he had made 34 hit shots in a round of 18 holes, based on a game of par 72, this would mean he is 38 under. Even if a golf angel happened to come from the heavens, this would be impossible. While deifying Kim Jong Il and having no knowledge of golfing rules, media officials only made the situation into a laughing comedy.

In response, the New York Times sarcastically commented, that if the reports by North Korean media was true, Kim Jong Il should be selected as the “World’s number one golfer” as even professional golf competitors find it difficult to claim a hole a one in a lifetime.

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Firms Blast North’s Business Climate

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

From the Donga:
9/5/2006

“Problems can arise anytime you do business in North Korea since there is no market order. However, when business partners disregard agreed-upon deals, it is impossible to conduct any new business. Someone who betrays others can always betray me. Now, who will be willing to trust North Korea and make new deals with it?”

Upon hearing the news report yesterday that North Korea sold the rights to build a large-scale resort including a golf course within the Gaesong Industrial Complex to South Korean real estate developer Unico, despite the fact that Hyundai Group currently holds the rights, one executive of a large company was assured that North Korea was not a trustworthy investment partner.

“If the South Korean government fails to have a control over ‘lawless’ North Korea, the entire business with North Korea can fall into a crisis,” he worried.

During the Kim Dae-jung administration, Hyundai Group began its North Korean business led by then-chairman Chung Ju-yung. It has invested more than $1 billion in North Korea, including $450 million (about 510 billion won by then exchange rate) illegally transferred to the North as a price for holding the inter-Korean summit in 2000. In the process, the company had to go through a major management crisis and the tragedy of Chairman Chung Mong-hun’s suicide.

At such a great cost, Hyundai earned from the North “seven business rights,” which include the rights to provide electricity, railway, tourism, and a dam. With regards to the 3-phase Gaesong Industrial Complex project, it obtained a certificate with which it is allowed to use the land for 50 years.

Nevertheless, Hyundai is gradually being excluded in North Korean businesses except for the existing Geumgang Mountain tour and the first-phase Gaesong Industrial Complex development. There are even rumors that North Korea is in the final stages of negotiation with Lotte Tours over tourism business in Gaesong and Baekdu Mountain, excluding Hyundai that has the business rights in those areas.

Now that North Korea is found to have sold the rights to use 1.4 million-pyeong of land in Gaesong to Unico at the price of $40 million, there is a greater sense of crisis in Hyundai.

It is needless to say that North Korea bears the largest responsibility for the recent trouble.

However, some point out that the South Korean government has been too lukewarm in its response to the problems with the North, out of fear that inter-Korean relations might suffer. They argue that such an attitude only encourages North Korea’s “derailment.”

“Hyundai Asan’s deal with the North over the second and third phases of the Gaesong Industrial Complex development and Unico’s deal with the North can cause overlaps or conflicts. Thus, the companies will have to negotiate over the matter,” said Goh Gyeong-bin, director-general of the Social and Cultural Exchanges Bureau at the Unification Ministry, yesterday when the news on Unico’s North Korea deal was reported.

“The Ministry of Unification never approved Hyundai Asan of its North Korea business to build a golf course in Gaesong. I believe a double deal is possible here just like it is in the private area,” he added.

This implies that the extraordinary business of inter-Korean economic cooperation is being recognized as an ordinary area of private autonomy where private business partners must resolve problems through self-negotiations.

However, everyone knows that Hyundai’s North Korea business did not start out as a mere private business activity. “The government has drawn no clear line in North Korean business, allowing companies to recklessly engage in such business only to encourage North Korea to develop bad habits,” one executive of an economic organization pointed out.

“In order to effectively manage business deals with unpredictable North Korea, the South Korean government must provide clear trade rules and guidelines. Considering the extraordinary nature of North Korean business, relying on the private sector’s autonomy will only extend uncertainties,” professor Hong Ki-taek of ChungAng University emphasized.

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Kaesong golf course under consideration

Tuesday, September 5th, 2006

From the Joong Ang Daily

Kaesong golf course under consideration
9/5/2006

North Korea is in talks with a South Korean company other than Hyundai Asan Corp. for a golf course business in Kaesong, the Unification Ministry said yesterday.

Hyundai Asan, a Hyundai Group affiliate, holds an exclusive right to do business in North Korea.

According to the ministry, Unico, a real estate developer based in Daegu, signed an agreement with North Korea’s Asia Pacific Peace Committee to rent two sites near Kaesong Industrial Complex to build golf courses.

Under the contract, the North Korean committee will lease the two sites, one in the southwest and the other in the north, for $40 million over the next five decades.

Along with the golf courses, Unico plans to establish hotels and other entertainment facilities, said the ministry.

However, the same sites are part of the 16,337 acres of land that Hyundai Asan was allowed to use after reaching an accord with the North in 2000. The Korean company is in the middle of building an industrial complex on 816 acres.

Building golf courses on the sites Unico made a deal on was on Hyundai’s agenda for next year.

“The right to run a golf course business there belongs to us, as we forged the contract first,” said a senior executive from Hyundai Asan.

The company began consultations with Unico yesterday over the golf courses in the North, according to the source.

“If Unico comes up with an appropriate business proposal, we can let the company be a business partner,” he added.

A high-ranking manager from Unico said the company pushed ahead with the project as North Korea explained Hyundai Asan has the right to businesses in Kaesong Industrial Complex only.

The Unification Ministry said it would consider approving the golf course business in North Korea only if North Korea, Hyundai Asan and Unico reach a compromise.

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An affiliate of 38 North